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Microsoft Word Is Like Gum In Your Blog's Hair

Microsoft_Word_Gum Formatting issues will persist in your blog if you continue to copy and paste from Microsoft Word.

Everyday we come across 'broken blogs'.  The reason the blog 'broke' is always the same: Microsoft Word was used to compose an article and now the formatting is jacked up, and in some cases the formatting throughout the rest of the blogsite is also affected.

The most common issues are challenges with font styles, sizes, bolding, italics and underlining.  Other challenges include indenting, bulleting and numbering and total sidebar destruction.

Here's why there is a problem:

Microsoft Word is a desktop publishing tool, intended for standard, offline word processing.
Microsoft Word is best used for items intended for printing or sharing offline: essays, business cards, menus, etc.
The proprietary code that Microsoft has written for their word processing program IS NOT HTML.

Below is an example of what their code can look like versus the more 'raw' version if it were written in HTML.

Word_code
VS Raw_html_1

Raw HTML works so efficiently with blogs because they are built using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) that 'govern' the look and feel of the text formatting and styling.

The font style, weight and size are all predefined in the code.  This alleviates inconsistencies and allows for a uniform look among blog articles and pages that are published to the site.  One does not have to worry about choosing font style, color, or even size; it is done automatically.

MS Word does not mix well with the CSS structure in blogs and can actually override the code, creating havoc throughout the rest of your site, not just the article you posted.
A common example we see is when someone has posted an article using MS Word, and every other article on the site suddenly carries a formatting of bold, italic or underline.  Not good.

Another interesting angle to consider is how detrimental MS Word can be to your Web 2.0 applications.


One of the most important recent shifts in the internet is the ability to separate the content from the style on a webpage A single article’s content can automatically be distributed and published in a multitude of different forms.  This is akin to having your article’s content published in separate newspapers, magazines and book styles, where the formating is unique in each example: different structure, font, and spacing in each. 

This is one of the beautiful aspects of Web 2.0.  You can instantly broadcast your article/feed to hundreds of different websites who can carry your article while keeping intact their own unique look and feel. 

Herein lies the conflict with Microsoft Word.  Desktop publishing applications style your content within the message.  You will notice <font> tags and <span style=""> tags and the forsaken ‘class=MsoNormal’.  All of these elements, when put into your blog, have serious repercussions beyond those mentioned above.  Each time that unorthodox code is distributed/picked up from your feed, it is going to continue to deliver its chaotic formatting into the recipient’s own unique layout.  Not good.

We know it is difficult to break old habits, especially ones that seem so useful, however it is important to realize the maleffects that using MS Word can have on your blog and your marketing message.  The three alternatives we recommend (and use) for blog publishing are Google Docs, BlogJet and Ecto.

(Update 9/9/09 : Recent versions of Wordpress allow for eliminating these types of formating issues caused by Microsoft Word)

Google Docs:
The blogger’s notebook.  A great, online, free, word processing application that makes for the ideal ‘scratch pad’ when developing content for your blog or website.

BlogJet:
All of our articles are polished and published in BlogJet.  The ease of use and robust publishing features make the $40 price tag worth it.

Ecto:
Blog publishing for both Apple and Windows, however the Apple version is far superior.  Oh, and it’s half the price of BlogJet.

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Comments

You might want to also include Windows Live Writer on the list.

http://windowslivewriter.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!D85741BB5E0BE8AA!174.entry

Count this as a huge endorsement of ecto; I write multiple blogs with ecto and it allows me to do so with ease. When I want to write in HTML, I can, but most of the time their markup works just fine. Ecto can be found at http://ecto.kung-foo.tv/.

Jim- I just learned this the hard way; html tags (especially adding an html link) become irreversable when using Word. For example, I wrote a blog about Austin with 10ish cool links and even in an HTML editor, the copy and paste method refused to allow the links to work :(

I'll have to try that GoogleDocs. Thanks for the guidance, Jim- wish this blog was posted last week, darn! :)

A.R.W.
I wish I could have posted it when originally wrote it... I have half-written around a dozen articles and the headlines for dozens more. Finding the time to polish and publish is the hard part. Thank goodness for Google Docs, however, now I have a place to keep all my budding ideas.

Jim, could you give a synopsis about the "polish" features of Blogjet?

Huzzah for Google Docs. It's not quite as polished as Zoho Writer, in my opinion, but for blogging and web publishing, it suits me just fine. Thanks for the insight on MS Word - I wasn't even aware of that stuff.

OMG (as the kiddos say/text), I just used Google Docs... I want a bumper sticker that says "I (insert picture of a heart here) GoogleDocs"! Thanks for the tip! :)

Jim, this is the best explanation I've read for the problems with using Word on blogging apps.

Oh YEAH, guess I should have paid attention to lesson 1, but I sure have it now. Thanks for getting it right.

How about pasting the word document into notepad and then into the blog platform? would that get rid of all the extra junk?

You know, I use a WordPress Platform for my blog, and I have had a lot of success with MS Word 2007 and their Blog publishing format. A few glitches at first, but nothing lately. It has worked very well. Am I missing something?

Ines-

I use both NotePad and WordPad to 'launder' the articles that have been sent to me by guest authors. The fact that these programs strip all formatting makes for a clean slate when pasting into BlogJet or GoogleDocs. The one challenge is that now all the hyperlinks and font styling is removed as well.

Mariana-

I have been hearing that there is a handy and quite successful feature in Word 07 that is working efficiently with blog publishing. The only challenge is that not everyone, in fact most, aren't using Word 07 and probably never will. Soon, very soon, all the competitive applications will be online services, built on open source platforms. And... best of all they won't cost hundreds of dollars up front.

Jim - As I am getting ready to launch our Blog next week your article was not only timely but also so informative. You just saved me a lot of time and trouble. A superb explanation!

Yeah anything direct from Word straight into Wordpress turns into a disaster. It's like trying to wash dishes in a dishwasher with all the racks taken out.

I'm finding Blogjet pretty decent, though the lack of support (as far as I can see) for making standalone pages is non existent.

The main problem with Wordpress I find is simply that the editor that comes with it is terrible. No spellcheck, it loads slower than the Queen Mary and I still find it adds or removes little pieces of html for no reason at times.

I'm still using Blogger as a text and html editor at times. If you cut and paste anything into the html editor it strips all formating and leaves the text, or you can cut and paste anything into the compose window and it keeps all the hyperlink and font formatting. Its easy switching between the "html" "compose" and "preview" views too. It only lags about a second on the switch to preview.

Jim, I want to thank you showing me google docs a few months ago. I showed it to my teenage daughters who now use it almost exclusively for school work.

Also, blogjet has spoiled me. It's so easy to use.

I was learning web design 10 years ago, and the first thing we learned was: "DO NOT USE MS WORD TO BUILD YOUR CONTENT!"
While Word does have it's uses, the web is not one of them.

Notepad is clean enough to do your own formatting.

Google spreadsheets are also pretty nice. Another great thing about google docs is being able to access your work remotely and share it with others. Next time I buy a new laptop I will say "no thanks" to the MS Office Suite and the $400 it costs. Maybe I can spend that $400 in RE Tomato T shirts.

MS has its place...you are right...not here.

I don't care what anyone says...your title for this article says it all. It should be nominated for post of the year! Love it Jim. Keep the creative juices flowing.

PS: My wife hates it when I speak in HTML. And, I thought I would never learn a second language.

I disagree with a lot of these comments, but not with the article. If you copy and paste from Word, you'll have issues. If you use MS Word 2007's blog publish feature, it publishes to Wordpress with very clean code. You may have some formatting issues, but all in all, it's a fairly good tool.

Thanks for the tip on Word.
I had no idea it caused such problems, good warning!

I have been using Google Docs ever since I read about it on Active Rain because I can access all my partial and completed documents from any computer; my home office, my office personal laptop, or any of my office workroom computers. I love the flexibility!

Nice post, Jim, and you garnered a link from your favorite real estate blogger into the bargain, but now I've spent a couple of days hacking around and learning things -- horror of horrors! I must say so far Live Writer is winning my hearts and minds, at the risk of sounding schizophrenic. Blogjet strikes me as a bit buggy for forty bucks, but Live Writer's beta is just buggy enough for free (actually it's less buggy than free, which is good).

Do I really have to play with Ecto now to say I've covered the field? Isn't there another one with Rocket in the name that I bumped into for $100 bucks? At that price it should take me out to dinner and light my cigarette for me.

Oh wait, I don't smoke.

I suppose I should take Ecto for a whirl as long as I'm on a roll, to see if it has more or less than $17.95 worth of bugs.

Jim,

I've tried blogjet, I really wanted to like it. I didn't like that I had to add the technorati tags after I published it, but it was do able.

However, I found like John there were bugs in the thing. I couldn't even load up the blog posts from one of the blogs, it just gave a cryptic error code and died every time.

I would really like to find a great blog editor. I agree with Athol, I hate the WP editor, it shows some tags, it removes others at a whim. It is a terrible editor, but because the preview is close to see, and I can turn it to code only and make it work I continue to use it. But I sure don't like it.

I keep hoping blogjet will get better. My 30 days are over, so I'll have to drop my $40 on a buggy program if I want to see if it is any better, wow, that sounds like the good old days of buying software : )

There is a way to paste text from MS Word into WordPress without all the junk code it creates:
1. Make sure you are using WordPress' default WYSIWYG editor.
2. Press alt+shift+v in Firefox, or alt+v in IE. A second row of buttons appears on the editor.
3. Copy the text that you want in MS Word. Come back to WordPress, and press the now visible "Paste from Word" button.
4. A pop up window appears. Paste the text into this window. Click ok.

Voila! Clean text straight from MS Word.

There is a plugin that adds a button to the WYSIWYG editor that, when pressed, makes the second row of buttons appear. This way you don't have to remember shortcuts. The plugin is here: http://www.solo-technology.com/blog/2007/02/28/first-release-visualize-advanced-features/

++Editor's Note - At this point, this only works in WordPress 2.1++

Incredible post. Not sure why I found it so amazing, but the simplicity is perfect. I, too, use Google Docs, and have never had a problem. I do know someone that experienced the "all the posts are now bold," situation, and he was pretty frustrated. I didn't stick around to see what the problem was, I was just glad it wasn't me.

I totally agree with Merv. I am not native English so for me and some other people around the globe Word spellchecking is very addictive. To all pursist – have a look at my blog www.xlrocks.com - all published with Word 2007. I see no blur in the HTML, do you? The cost of Office 2007 is peanuts for us compared with the time spent getting insulted by other spellcheckers I have tried. Most of them tell what is wrong – I want to know what is right!! When you need spellchecking in your blog you have just one alternative – Word 2007.

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